Belfast Telegraph

Traders to set streets buzzing

By Shauna Corr

A brand new campaign urging shoppers to stay local is hitting the streets of east Belfast and Castlereagh this Saturday, December 7.

In a move to entice shoppers back to their local stores; retailers, business groups and traders are banding together for Small Business Saturday.

It's hoped that by urging people to spend with small and independent shops, that it will bring a much needed boost to the area as December shopping begins.

Belmont Road traders have organised a series of Christmas themed events to encourage people to do their Christmas shopping in the east.

A big fun day has been organised at CFC – where children will be able to have their faces painted, have a go on the bouncy castle and learn to make balloon animals of their very own.

Belmont Road with be lined with street artists, while a treasure hunt, a lantern parade and a firework display at Strandtown Police Station have also been planned to brighten up the

day's shopping.

Glyn Roberts from NIIRTA (Northern Ireland's independent Retailers Association), who chairs the Small Business Saturday campaign in Northern Ireland, said: "I think it's an absolutely crucial day, not least because it's one of the main shopping days of the year, but I think also it's much broader than just retail.

"It's about every type of small business and it's encouraging consumers to make a special point on Saturday to support their local traders.

"Now whether that is a butcher, a chemist, a pub, a restaurant, a manufacturer. We want people to make a real particular effort on Saturday to support those local traders.

"I think there's some really good things on on Saturday in east Belfast, as there are in many other town centres.

"We're very encouraged at the response that we've been getting, and I think that the key message to consumers, is to make a special point to support those traders on that day.

"This is a UK-wide campaign that originated from the states."

But, Mr Roberts said that although it has been tried and tested – with great success – in the USA, this is the first time the campaign is running in the UK.

"This is a key day," he said, "where you've got fun days and fantastic offers in different shops, so there's an awful lot going on just to showcase the big contribution that small business makes, not just to the economy, but to our local community as well.

"independent retailers are, if you like, the social glue that keeps the community together," he added.

"They are an important community service as much as a local small business.

"All that is key."

Small Business Saturday, which in America was supported by President Obama, has also won the support of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Meanwhile, Belfast City Council is trying to entice shoppers into the city centre with a month-long programme which will see the city come to life with street performers and entertainment each weekend in December.

Earlier this month, the council agreed to commit an additional £200,000 towards marketing the city and its retailers in the run up to Christmas.

For more information on what's happening in and around Belfast over the Christmas period, visit www.belfast city.gov.uk/event

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